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Storm of steel, riffs and blast beats. - 74%

SadisticGratification, May 15th, 2013

To sum this album up in one word would elicit some thought. "Under the Sign of the Iron Cross" (USIC) the final album by Dutch death metallers God Dethroned will never be a classic but isn't bad enough to warrant a simple phrase like "alright" or "okay", it's good but forgettable when stowed away in your cd collection. There are moments of true genius and extremely memorable riffs dotted about the place but are hidden behind the frantic riffing and almost constant blast beats.

The aforementioned frantic riffing and blast beats are normally not a stick I use to beat an album by but this album certainly takes it to a whole new level. Blast beats are heavily abused in this album, so much so that it's hard to tell the difference between many of the songs. Very few songs really have an identity of their own and only serve as cogs in the machine that is this album. The first real track on this album "Storm of Steel" is definitely one of the better songs on this album. The frantic riffing and blast beats are very much on show on this track but it suits this song more so than others, it has a better flow to it and part way through the song it slows down a bit chugs along before building back up to speed. The vocals on this track like on the other tracks on the album are superb. One of my favourite vocal performances on any God Dethroned album, raspy, harsh but also very understandable.

The title track for this album is one of the few songs that really stands out. "Under the Sign of the Iron Cross" has more structure and melody to it while also retaining the blast beats and frantic riffing but to it's favour not its detriment. just before the 2 minute mark the best riff on the whole album kicks in but in my opinion doesn't last long enough, it's a double bass fueled tremelo pick fest with some great melody and it also has a really beautiful outro. It's also the only song on the whole album to feature clean vocals but adds very little to the song. I feel this track should have been used to close out the album but instead it is stood right in the middle of the album.

The production on this album is superb, clean and crisp but allowing the guitars to retain a nice sharp sound and the drums are well mixed, they don't stand out nor do they fade into the background. As the title may suggest the album and it's themes are focused around war, the lyrics deal with warfare, death, battles. They do a competent job and Henri Sattler gives an excellent vocal performance. Some of the better tracks are "Storm of Steel", "The Killing is Faceless", "Under The Sign of the Iron Cross" and "The Red Baron". The rest of the tracks on the album don't really stand out for me but your mileage may vary.

I must admit, it was a real chore to review this album. Not because it was so bad that listening to it again hurt my ears. That's not it, it's to do with the fact that I'm not really too opinionated about this album. It's good and very listenable but it's also so easy to forget about, once it got sandwiched between a stack of other classic death metal releases.

"Iron Cross" is their best release. - 92%

Pr0nogo, September 7th, 2012

God Dethroned. It's a name familiar to many a metalhead. Though they officially disbanded last year, the four piece from the Netherlands delivered what rightfully deserves the title of "magnum opus" - the definitive listening experience that is God Dethroned. 2010's Under the Sign of the Iron Cross delivers a record of stunning musicianship, blistering speed, and a powerful presence that will leave you speechless during and after the running time of thirty-seven minutes. This is a beast of a record; blood will be shed. Eardrums will be torn. Cadavers will be violated righteously, and video of it broadcasted for all the world to see. And this isn't even a Cannibal Corpse album. Fancy that.

The album's opener, "The Declaration of War", is the calm before the storm - showing that Iron Cross follows the suit of Passiondale, the band's previous effort. The real deal doesn't really start until the first proper track, "Storm of Steel", opens up with the single best lyrical introduction that surpasses even Machine Head's "Beautiful Mourning". Henri Sattler gives the signal, and the cannons fire - the tanks roll in, the guitars break out, the drums blast off, and all you hear for a moment is "DIEEEEEE!" as Henri's vox shred you. Very fitting, don't you think? I think. Sometimes. That's not the extent of Sattler's power level, though - Iron Cross is saturated with memorable choruses and passages, both lyrical and musical. All of them will burn a crater in your memory, and you will be enveloped in the brutality. I can safely say that Henri's brutal vocals are some of the most satisfyingly emotional, coherent, and intense that I've heard - reminiscent of those of The Project Hate MCMXCIX - and that his presence in the metal world will be sorely missed. Few can stand toe to toe with him.

Vocal proficiency (or mastery, if you prefer) is far from the only thing that will grace your ears when listening to this gem - there is a fierce technical musicianship within Iron Cross that is not to be missed. They may not prop themselves up as virtuosos every song, but when God Dethroned solo, they fuckin' solo. A tangible melody is pervasive throughout each and every track of Iron Cross, but the title track has amazing tremolo passages and a memorable solo. It's so good that you should buy the whole album if only to listen to that one fucking song - but honestly, they're all great. Every track has a technical aspect - the guitar lines aren't just support for the more powerful sound of the drums or vocals. They're independent pieces of the same puzzle, both making a name for themselves and contributing to the final mix. This approach to guitarwork not only shows an immense capacity for proficient playing, but a great ear and very solid musicianship.

The drums and the bass are the next pieces of the all-powerful mix that is God Dethroned's sound. While the bass will inevitably be overlooked by most listeners, it has a special charm - it contributes to the white noise of the album (obviously), but also seems to back the more melodious, shred-prone passages as opposed to sticking with the backing rhythm. It gives the solos and riffs way more of a sound boost than they would otherwise get - a benefit from talented basswork and good production. God Dethroned gets all the goodies. All of them. The drums, though, are at times relentlessly fast. With all the death metal bands you probably listen to, you're bound to find about three thousand that have blisteringly fast drums. While that's true with God Dethroned, drummer Michiel van der Plicht also knows how to slow the fuck down and play a groove when it suits the mix. Would I mind if he stuck to the traditional "batter my ears till I can't hear no more" approach? Maybe not, but the approach he did take is a lot more customisable - and as such, it lends extremely well to the album as a whole. Not only can it have its slow moments, it doesn't always have to deal in extremes. Iron Cross has a middle ground when it comes to pacing and speed. That's a good thing, fuckers.

This album would be jack all if it weren't for the stellar musicianship it expressed. All that shit that goes on behind the scenes to make the mix, well, fuckin' mix is essential for all bands. God Dethroned just did it way better than most of their contemporaries. This band has excelled in creating an amazing record at least twice, and this is the most amazing one. Its length, its musicianship, its sound, its skill, its nigh-flawless execution all contribute (to my hyperbole). Are they the best? Certainly not. They're pretty fucking high up on the list, though, and that counts for something. Why? Because my opinion counts more than yours. Bitch. No, I'm kidding. I just write for more websites than you do. Eat that.

While you're at it, eat this record. It's high in iron.

Recommended Tracks:
2.) "Storm of Steel"
4.) "The Killing is Faceless"
8.) "The Red Baron"
9.) "On Fields of Death & Desolation"

Global Domination: http://www.globaldomination.se
The Metal Observer: http://www.metal-observer.com

Storm of Steel - 89%

lonerider, April 4th, 2012

The title of the first proper track on God Dethroned’s latest – and, sadly, likely final – album describes the music perfectly: this is clearly not meant for the ears of the faint of heart. On the contrary, this is one of the most feral and uncompromising death metal albums I have heard in a while, combining stylistic influences from the old-school European death metal of the early nineties, the more technical approach of the Florida scene and some very fitting black metal overtones (the tremolo picking and melodies in the monumental title track or the closing “On Fields of Death & Desolation” come to mind). This is not an album that reinvents the wheel in any way, nor does it have any aspirations to do so, but rather attempts to pummel the listener into oblivion with a succession of fast, quick-striking death metal tunes – a mission well accomplished, I might add.

This is also an album that should appeal to all you history buffs out there, as the carefully crafted lyrical concept (along with the very tasteful artwork) conveys a haunting and faithful rendition of the defining catastrophe of the twentieth century, the so-called Great War. I for one applaud the band’s decision to choose the First World War as a subject matter and underlying concept for this record instead of World War II, the latter being a topic that has pretty much been beaten to death and, from a historical perspective, is in many ways the direct result of the global armed conflict that preceded it. Speaking of history, has there ever been a more appropriate and meaningful intro than “The Declaration of War”? Featuring a truly foreboding guitar melody and excerpts from a recorded speech held by German Emperor William II, in which he announces Germany’s entry into the war, it perfectly sets the tone for the mayhem that is soon to follow. Many intro songs come across as gratuitous and forgettable, but certainly not this one.

So, in short, what else is there to say about “Under the Sign of the Iron Cross”? Well, at under 40 minutes it’s short and to the point, it’s very consistent, it never lets up in terms of brutality while keeping things fresh and interesting by slowing down at the right moments and adding a few well-placed melodic touches, it’s perfectly played and executed by competent musicians and is supremely well produced with a crystal clear yet sufficiently raw sound that never gets too slick or “modern”. If you’re into unrelentingly brutal war-themed death metal with a nice history lesson thrown in for good measure, I would advise you to look no further and get God Dethroned’s “Under the Sign of the Iron Cross” post-haste.

Choicest cuts: Fire Storm, Under the Sign of the Iron Cross (a mind-blowing track, based on a phenomenal lead guitar melody and featuring a passage with clean vocals in the middle that gives it a truly epic feel), The Red Baron (with lyrics on notorious fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen), On Fields of Death & Desolation

God Dethroned - Under the Sign of the Iron Cross - 90%

tcgjarhead, October 28th, 2011

This was my introduction to God Dethroned. In fact the only reason I decided to check out this album was because I was looking for war themed death metal. God Dethroned play blackened death metal so there is an excess (though not in a negative way) of ripping fast riffs and blast beats.

To add some atmosphere the album starts with what sounds like a German radio message as drums and guitars slowing fade in. Storm of Steel is probably the best track on the album though its hard to say because it is all so good here. The riffs while often pretty fast paced are very melodic for the style of metal being played. In fact that is one of the big things I enjoy about UtSotIC, there is so much melody fused with the brutality that the riffs and vocal/lyric lines stick with you long after you've finished listening.

Whats more the album is only 36 minutes long. Tracks like Storm of Steel, Fire Storm, The Killing Is Faceless, and The Red Baron all are memorable headbangers with excellent riffs and face melting lyrics about WWI combat. To add to the combat theme there are small sound bytes taken from Saving Private Ryan of some of the battle scenes. Fire Storm has the sounds of a tank being blown up with machine gun fire in the background, Chaos Reigns At Dawn takes from the scene where the Germans are firing a heavy weapon at allied troops tearing them to pieces. This all adds to the war theme giving an extra bump to the atmosphere.

But there are two really epic tracks here. The self titled song has an excellent clean sung portion in the middle while the drums blast. Soon its over and the song gets back to its massively heavy sound. On Fields of Death and Desolation comes in at 7 and a half minutes with a long intro that builds up to the heavier part. This song isn't so much about being "brutal" or heavy but once the intro is over it definitely displays that. Half way in the song goes back into riffing slowly with harmonized leads in almost the same way it began. There is some pretty nice soloing in this section as well.

Henri Sattler is an awesome vocalist with his gravely yet sharp growling. The drummer blasts like a heavy machine gun rat a tatting away. The bass drumming also sounds pretty heavy on a bass heavy sound system, I love listening to this album in my car. Under the Sign of the Iron Cross is a brutally awesome album that melds Bolt Hammeresque military/war themes and melody with speeds verging on black metal. This was easily one of my favorite albums of 2010 and you shouldn't miss out on the masterpiece created here.

Originally reviewed @ http://abaddonsmetalshop.blogspot.com/

Another War’s Worth Of Material - 83%

OzzyApu, October 26th, 2011

Assaulting with another album immediately after the fantastic Passiondale, God Dethroned show that they know when to not waste time. While Passiondale was reverent and brutal, Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross, lets loose with ferociousness first and veneration second. This album is essentially a continuation of the last one (similar production, flow, compositions, etc.). God Dethroned didn’t change that much in a year, yet they still sound fresh and fascinating (if a little less so than with Passiondale). Still, another batch of short, raging songs of the same World War One theme from a band that already did it correctly the year before is, of course, going to be loved by those that want it.

Again, if you’ve heard Passiondale, then the production is much of the same: modern blasting (a little less polished than last time), tight playing, fast and heavy as fuck songs, intense tones, a hopeless (thematically war-torn) atmosphere, and riffs that ravage, devastate, and cause immense amounts of headbanging. Passiondale was dramatic, but this album throws you right in among muddy, rough tones with frenzied riffs that never let up. The relentless tempos and unyielding rhythms do well to bring out the immense scope and absolutely appalling nature of the situation. Wars are never pretty, and God Dethroned nailed the brutal sound while still keeping it melodic and vivid. Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross is death metal that’s larger than itself and, like that particular war, has songs that make up more on their own than as a whole album. Think of it as the First World War (the album) being a general frame of many particular battles (the songs). Each song has distinctive riffs (all extreme and vile) like with the title track’s heroism (and distressing clean singing) and the Middle Eastern tinges of “Through Byzantine Hemispheres”.

Solos are ripe, vigorous, and harmonic, showing a more melodic death / power metal side of the band (Iron Maiden-like moments such as with “The Red Baron” and “On Fields Of Death And Desolation”). These moments of bliss are countered by moments of insanity when the band’s death metal side takes over again, but the relationship is mutual and flow is never compromised for a catchy melody. Above these are the already mentioned clean vocals, but since those are rare, the growls head this entire operation. Sattler’s coarse grunts are the charred coating that details the story of a war long forgotten, with every hint of spite and disdain that war left behind. On the underside, bass support is hefty and its rumbles in the background feel like quakes wrought from artillery. The same can be said about the double bass and blast beats, which are common and enhance the panicky mood. While adhering to tempo rules, drumming is almost always fast, blistering, and thunderous.

The Dutch metal scene has provided great metal for a while now, but this breed of war-themed death metal like new-era God Dethroned and their cousins Hail Of Bullets mark their own territory. This is another album in that tight niche that I’d recommend to those looking for more heavy, loud, enjoyable death metal with edge and replay value. Check out Passiondale and Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross to get a good double package.

Lateral Move for God Dethroned - 75%

Shadoeking, January 13th, 2011

Coming off their most successful release thus far in Passiondale, God Dethroned found themselves in the position of how to follow that album. The blackened death metal band opted to try to recreate the album. Keeping with the World War II theme, God Dethroned brings us this release.

God Dethroned sounds a bit like a cross between Morbid Angel, Dismember, and Behemoth on this one. The guitars sound a bit like the famous Stockholm death metal buzzsaw sound, without aping the sound completely. There is also just enough murkiness and malevolence to the riffs to give them a slight resemblance to some of Trey Azagthoth's work. Of course the blast-beat driven drum sound has also returned on this album.

The vocals are delivered in a death metal roar. The vocalist Henri Sattler has never really deviated from that sound. Another similarity to the band's latest album found on this release is the addition of clean guest vocals on the title track by Marco Van Der Welde of The Wounded. When he is at his best, his vocals are spine-chilling. I do not believe he was used as well on this release as he was on the track "No Survivors" from the last album.

The overall sound of the album is chaotic. Obviously this is the idea when the overreaching concept is the brutality of war. The guitars are very loud and the riffs extremely heavy. There are seldomly any melodic parts and even when they are present, they are unnerving and eerie rather than calming. This is not an album for the weak of heart, certainly.

This album is not a step forward for God Dethroned. It is not that it is a bad album by any stretch, just that it is a lateral move from Passiondale. It's a damn good album, but it's just not quite to the same level as the last album. It is more of a recreation of the same album. Now some bands get by releasing the same album over and over (ahem Motorhead). So, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. It is just a little disappointing.

World War 2...again...but done better, I guess. - 85%

burnoutfool, November 30th, 2010

God Dethroned is a band that most metalheads are familiar with. I heard their album Bloody Blasphemy a few years back when I was in middle school and I was astounded at their sound. I had only heard a few bands in the death metal world, but God Dethroned mixed both the death metal sound and the black metal sound, so it opened my perspective to other bands, such as Morbid Angel and Atheist. I bought Bloody Blasphemy because of that (though on Itunes). I remember that God Dethroned brought me a wider appreciation of metal because of that.

Under the Sign of the Iron Cross is the newest release to the God Dethroned library. This album is a World War 2 concept album, and I think that it was pretty good. The concept itself has been done to shit, but it's still cool to hear another album on World War 2. It was unique in the fact that there was clean vocals. I only heard clean vocals on one track (the self titled song - Under the Sign of the Iron Cross), but it was still interesting. I thought it was really a great piece of work and it shows that God Dethroned is not running out of ideas.

As always, Henri Sattler did phenomenal on vocals, but it was still nothing like the first few albums. Not everybody can do great every release, but it wasn't that bad. I especially liked that he has enough vocal power and comfortability with his vocals that he could sing without vocal distortion. It was great. I think that this album, though not his best, still had great aspects to it.

The guitar work was a bit sub-par, however. Usually, God Dethroned plays some good stuff and the songs usually have some great solo work in them. This album was highly mediocre and it was a bit disappointing in that aspect. I guess I was hoping for something that would shatter In the Lair of the White Worm, but what we got was a downstep from anything they've ever played. As for the other string instrument (bass), we never really heard it. It's not like their bassist is Les Claypool, but I'd still like to hear some badass riffs from him. It's really just nitpicking, but I guess I was just hoping for some great shit.

The drums were interesting, but good. I really liked some of the fills that was on the album, and even still, I liked a lot of the actual verses and choruses. It was a really good album, rythmically, but it wasn't the best. I will, once again, refer back to Bloody Blasphemy. I guess it's just my initial listen talking, but I still think that this album was flawless for God Dethroned. The drums were great, but unlike on Bloody Blasphemy, this album was really just cut and paste overall, but it wasn't bad.

Under the Sign of the Iron Cross was really good, but it was a bit disappointing for a true fan. I guess this was kind of like the Gwar album (Bloody Pit of Horror), in the fact that I'll like it, but it will become one of the albums I don't listen to a lot.

Highlights: Storm of Steel, The Killing Is Faceless, Under the Sign of the Iron Cross.

Still loyal to the crown of God Dethroned - 90%

joncheetham88, November 26th, 2010

I never got around to reviewing Passiondale in the end. It was comfortably inside my top 5 albums of last year, and before it has even left my regular playlist or the front of my mind the followup is out and looks to attain almost the same glorious placement by December.

God Dethroned stick with the WWI theme that drove the 2009 opus, and it seems to be the thing that's behind their unprecedented acceleration into a top contender for the position of most exciting black/ death metal group on the market. The blasting drums and raging twin guitar frenzy perfectly paint the harrowing, quickly turning battles the lyrics describe. Henri Sattler's recent preoccupation with these grim subjects has encouraged him to create the only songs merciless enough to put the listener in the path of these battles - fast, unrelenting, anthemic extreme metal.

With that in mind this will be one of those occasional reviews where the lyrics seriously impact my impression of a black/ death metal record."Fight for your country - die for the glory" spits Sattler on the grimly entitled 'The Killing is Faceless'. While the killing might be impersonal, the lyrics insist that the soldiers themselves are not faceless, and that in their deaths they attained a moment of glory beyond the agenda of the rulers and politicans who put them in trenches and on blood-sodden fields. This is part of the ideological appeal of God Dethroned for me. While Hail of Bullets are heavy artillery and Marduk are a self-proclaimed panzer division, these guys are more like a band of veteran squaddies. Translating that into war metal terms gives you mostly short, intense songs with little room for breathers.

It gets going even faster than Passiondale. Violent headbanging commences as soon as the intro leads into 'Storm of Steel'. The riffs are sharp as fire-hardened spears, the drums are tighter than the British coalition government's public spending budget, and Henri Sattler ignites it all in vocal ruin and flame. The bulk of the brief album plays like a furious blend of Immortal and Vader. The band's previous outings seem distilled and fortified here: it accelerates the more melodic and expansive aesthetic of The Lair of the White Worm - a LOT - and gives the blackened death metal of Bloody Blasphemy the solid production carapace of that album.

The album barely lets up at all throughout the vicious first eight tracks, breaking only for some well-written guitar solos and a single clean vocal appearance on the title track. The latter goes for more of an 'epic' feel in keeping with the previous album, and I do wish that the soaring clean vocals had been used more often, seeing as they worked so well during last year's campaign. The closer is a 7:30 piece, more propulsive drumming and fierce riffs coupled with slower breaks; some martial and some melodic. Playing out mournfully the track allows for all the reflectiveness the preceding seven didn't make time for, and although it's fairly conventionally structured it makes for a grand closer.

Under the Sign of the Iron Cross is truly angry and unstoppable, maintaining hysterical paces and technically amazing musicianship throughout - without stopping off to let you actually notice much beyond the relentless onslaught of neck-snapping black/ death metal. It's minimalist and very focused. It's far more straightforward, it doesn't evolve the sound the band is going for but rather concentrates it. Credit to them for not repeating their formula here.

In terms of riff composition and instrumental execution it's perfect, the only very minor complaint being that there are a few less standout moments that floor me. But very few bands have recorded two albums as good as Passiondale within two years. This is still top notch stuff and probably an equal second best with Bloody Blasphemy. I'd recommend it among the top ten of the year and consider it mandatory listening.

(http://baileysmmcreamy.blogspot.com/)

The 20th century was not the friendliest of places - 70%

autothrall, November 22nd, 2010

High on the fumes of war and history that delivered their prior album Passiondale, the Dutch terror tactics of God Dethroned have returned for yet another venture into the past, a grim reminder of the bloodied and storied architecture of the 20th century. While I concede that having Henri Sattler and his band of belligerents as social studies professors is an intense and exciting prospect, I do glean the notion that this WWI or WWII metal could become all too trendy, with Hail of Bullets as the obvious forerunner, and many others in the underground following suite (some pretty good, like Invasion). I worry that, like the trend in first person shooter entertainment that burdened the earlier 21st century of gaming, this might grow to some level of stagnancy in short order...but hell, it's better than zombies and rape fantasies, right?

Don't answer that. But you may have to answer to God Dethroned, for they are quite intent with Under the Sign of the Iron Cross to blow your fucking head off its foundation, so manic and focused are the compositions here. There is no subtlety whatsoever to a "Storm of Steel" or "The Killing is Faceless", and at best you're going to have the sprinkling of Scandinavian melodies like rain on a grim battlefield, or some clean vocal breaks as in the title track which, while not catchy, are at least not so annoying. The drumming here is particularly nasty, with Mike van der Plicht of Prostitute Disfigurement and Toxocara taking over the duties from Roel Sanders, and he sounds like a human carpet bombing. Sattler mans the helm like a commandant barking down damnation and condemnation upon the theater of war, nearly as percussive as the riffing and unbridled wrist and footwork raging below him. It's not all blitz-worthy, the band will often take a breather, for their own health or the listener's, but the road always leads to some inevitable outbreak.

Unfortunately, though God Dethroned perform this hyper, voluptuous array of Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal and Bolt Thrower with measured accuracy and unflinching passion, the songs are simply not here to survive more than a few spins of the attention, and I found it was about 2-3 interesting tracks short of a Passiondale or Lair of the White Worm, though still superior to 2006's disappointment, The Toxic Touch. The music resonates within the mix, and the album should be heard simply for the intense battery, but the faster material gets old rather quick, and the slower fare, when it transpires, is just not as hot as the munitions being fired off throughout the narrative. It's not exactly a letdown, because it stays pretty consistent to the prior album, but it never builds on Passiondale outside of few instances of sheer speed and force.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com